Sunday, June 11, 2006

Day 17 - Melvich

We have had a baking hot day here in Cumbria, and the weather has been the same right to the tip of Scotland. Martin says tonight that he has had the best day’s cycling ever! The scenery has surpassed all superlatives; he has taken a few pictures but says that none of them will do justice to what he has seen. It is a fantastic end to his journey – words cannot describe how completely awestruck he is! The lochs and the sea reflected the sky in shades of turquoise and royal blue. The coast has revealed miles of stunning yellow beaches with not a soul on them, as if everyone is asleep; he said they look like something out of a pacific holiday brochure. He saw only two people on horseback, galloping along a stretch of beach. I’m there already! Following the road alongside Loch Loyal was absolutely amazing, he said. Scotland has had some fabulous cycling country.

He camps tonight after cycling 66.93 miles, at the Halladale Inn, Melvich, slightly left of Thurso. He is on the north coast, with only 38 miles to cycle tomorrow, to John O’Groats. All the tents on the site belong to cyclists, apparently. One of them is Bill Blight, who is cycling round the coast of Great Britain, raising money for the RNLI, visiting every lifeboat station along the way. He has a website – and is making the 5,000 mile anticlockwise journey on a Brompton bike (a fold up version that can be fitted into a suitcase) and a makeshift trailer, on top of which is a large cardboard cut out of a lifeboat. Very Heath Robinson. It has a trailer chassis and a car roof box on top, in which Martin says the chap is carrying tonnes of stuff – more belongings than Martin actually owns. Bill, who lives near Corfe Castle in Dorset, has two different pedals on his bike – one metal and the other plastic. He has taken 6 months unpaid holiday from work to complete the trip, cycling 30 miles a day, hoping to raise £15,000. Martin said he has a brilliant sense of humour, and was itching to get off to the Inn for a drink with him.

Martin said that he has also had the windiest day (and I am talking about the weather); as soon as he hit Tongue on the north coast in the afternoon, even cycling downhill for the next 27 miles was a struggle. Vehicles overtaking him became a problem; as he was leaning into the wind, when he was passed by a car (or more commonly a campervan) the pressure dropped suddenly, and he almost fell over sideways. He says his legs are screaming! That’ll be ‘cyclist’s leg’ then.

There may be a change of plan with the journey home. He was told by two seasoned cyclists this morning that he could save about £100 by taking a ferry from the mainland to the Shetland Isles, then another to Aberdeen, to meet a train there. Ever one to save where he can, this would be preferable, although there is a smallish problem – he gets terribly sea-sick!!!

If you’d like to send Martin any messages for his return home, you may email them to I know this blog has been followed by many people, some of which have given very encouraging positive feedback, from next door, to Workington, to Kent, Essex, Cornwall, and even Belgium and Australia! As I said yesterday, all sponsor money is going to the Pride of Cumbria helicopter, and there is still room on the sponsor forms for more donations. If you think Martin’s journey is worth rewarding, please contact me at the above email address, and I’ll gladly get in touch with you. Or send cheques made payable to 'Pride of Cumbria' to Marjorie Robertson (fundraiser), 14 West Lane, Flimby, Maryport, Cumbria. CA15 8RL, and include your name, address and importanly postcode, so that an extra 28% can be claimed back. I know those lovely lads at Carleton Hall (where the chopper is based) will be grateful for the extra funding to keep the ‘copter in the air, saving lives.


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